(Hopefully) Last Day Of Replacement Officials Talk

Chris Mortensen is reporting at this hour that the is an agreement is “in hand” between the NFL and the officials and that the regular refs could be back on the field this weekend.

Patriot defense didn’t look revamped in first test – Greg Bedard’s film study reveals among other things, that Devin McCourty actually played his best game in some time. (Wait, D&C told me it was the worst performance by a Patriots player in franchise history.)

Bedard, by the way, had a marathon Twitter stream-of-consciousness last night where he weighed in on how the defense and schemes that the Patriots employ make it difficult – nearly impossible – for the cornerbacks to succeed. He noted that some of them don’t even fully understand the rationale for the things they’re asked to do.

NFL’s TV partners didn’t hold back on the refs – In a special edition mid-week media column, Chad Finn notes approvingly that networks like NBC and ESPN have not held back from being critical of the league for how it has handled the replacement referee situation.

The best show on radio this week has been Gresh and Zo and their even-handed analysis of the Patriots and of the officials. It’s been refreshing to hear someone in the media acknowledge that the referees did have a huge impact on the Patriots losing that game on Sunday night.

It seems most try to dismiss that by saying that the Patriots had plenty of opportunities to put the game away and failed to do so. (Can’t you say the same about the Packers? Shouldn’t the juggernaut Packers have scored more than 12 points against the Seahawks?)  The defense made some plays which were wiped out by horrific flags. Everyone is saying that the Patriots didn’t get a single sack or hit on the QB, but they got to Flacco late in the game, sacked him for a loss, and a defensive holding penalty was called on Brandon Spikes. If you look at it again, Spikes engages Dennis Pitta, but releases him prior to the 5 yards allowed. The ball was at the 10, and you can see below that at the 5, Spikes has already released him.  Pitta kept his own hand on Spikes’ shoulder and pulls him forward.

The flag was then thrown on Spikes.  Had the sack held up, it would’ve set up 3rd and goal from the 22, but instead it set up 1st and goal from the 5. On the next play, Flacco hit Smith for the TD. That’s one example, but really, it’s the turning point of the game. (apologies to the NBC Sports Network show which will tonight air what their own turning point of the game was.)

There were of course many other calls throughout the game, but this was the most damaging and egregious to the Patriots.

There’s the whole FG thing, but we won’t go there.

Yes, this is blatant yahoo homerism,(on my part) but I don’t think you can just dismiss what happened here in this game. Between this and the holding on Gronkowski against the Cardinals which negated the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, it’s a tough 1-2 that the Patriots sit at right now.

A few other links:

It could be a Field of Dreams again – Sean McAdam says that seeing the 2004 club return last night should show us that a turnaround from a disastrous season can come faster than you might think.

Red Sox recall better times – Joe McDonald has more on the reunion.

At Least Price Was Right: Red Sox Game 155 – Jon Couture is a little 2004′d out.

He’s a man on a mission – Chris Forsberg has Jason Terry looking to be a Lakers and Heat “killer” for the Celtics.

Celts wonder about Darko Milicic – Mark Murphy has the Celtics wondering what they have in the 7-footer.

  • Classless

    it’s impossible to say McCourty had a great game when he dropped 2 INT’s and was toasted on a TD. Those are game changing plays he has to make and what separates the average CB’s from the great ones.

    • http://bostonsportsmedia.com/ Bruce Allen

      He didn’t say he had a great game.

    • Guntfather

      Because McCourty has been bad for almost a year, he said that this was one his best performance in awhile. So it was a recency analysis not he is playing great for a good cornerback.

  • TonyC66

    Late to the party here. While I’m not trying to excuse how poorly the defense performed in the final 45 minutes of the game Sunday, it should be noted that the Ravens went the entire first quarter without a first down. Then, in their first possession of the 2nd quarter, the Pats stopped them again, three and out, at their own 15-yard line or so. BUT…the replacement refs called a bizarre P.I. on Jerod Mayo, I believe, on the 3rd down incompletion, on a ball that appeared to be tipped at the LOS before it got to the intended receiver. NBC never showed a replay of that call, for some reason, but if the ball was in fact tipped at the LOS, then no pass interference could have been possible on the play. After that sketchy call extended what would have been a fourth consecutive possession without a Baltimore first down to start the game, the Ravens’ offense found its mojo. Again, I’m not making excuses, but Bruce’s overall argument that the refs most certainly made some curious calls that wiped out SEVERAL good plays by the Pats’ defense on Sunday surely had an impact on the final outcome. Of course, the clearly phantom holding calls on McCourty and Spikes on the same drive when the score was still 30-21 in the fourth quarter were enormous, momentum-shifting flags. Glad to have the real refs back, but the Pats are now 1-2 when they easily could be 3-0 had the professional zebras been working since opening day. And that’s just more proof, in my opinion, that Commissioner “Red Light” has to go. I really, really, really hope that Belichick decides to write a tell-all book after he retires from the NFL, because I’m sure Commissioner Howdy-Doody will be firmly–and rightly–in his crosshairs.